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The Department is successfully reducing overpayments through fraud and error. For example, latest National Statistics show that fraud and error in income support and jobseekers allowance have reduced by 44 per cent. since 1998. It is our firm intention to reduce the levels of overpayment even further. To this end we have set up an Official Error Task Force and will be publishing our strategy for reducing error later in 2006.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether there is a statutory right of appeal in relation to the recovery of benefit payments where these have been generated by official error; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the total number of people (a) entitled to and (b) in receipt of (i) council tax benefit, (ii) housing benefit, (iii) pension credit and (iv) disability living allowance for each year from 1996-97 to 2005-06; and if he will make a statement. 
|Estimates of eligibility and receipt of housing benefit|
|Number eligible||Number in receipt|
|Estimates of eligibility and receipt of council tax benefit|
|Number eligible||Number in receipt|
|Estimates of eligibility and receipt of pension credit|
|Number eligible||Number in receipt|
| Notes: 1. Estimates of the numbers eligible are derived from estimates of the number receiving the benefit, and the number who are entitled and not receiving the benefit. These estimates are published in the Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-up series. Copies are available in the Library. 2. The latest published estimates for housing benefit and council tax benefit are for 2003-04. The latest estimates for pension credit relate to the year 2004-05. 3. The numbers receiving housing benefit and council tax benefit are based on quarterly 100 per cent. caseload counts averaged over the year. The numbers receiving pension credit are derived from the Work and Pensions Longitudinal Study, and relate to the average number of recipients over the period. 4. Estimates of the numbers receiving are consistent with the figures used to calculate National Statistics estimates of take-up, and so exclude cases in non-private households and the full-time self-employed. Estimates presented here will therefore differ from other published sources. 5. Estimates of the numbers entitled but not receiving are sourced from the Family Resources Survey. 6. Estimates of the number eligible are presented as ranges within which it can be assumed the true figure lies. These ranges account for possible biases inherent in estimates from data that are less then perfect. The ranges also account for sampling error. 7. Estimates have been rounded to the nearest 10,000. 8. Care should be taken when interpreting changes in estimates over time because it is not possible to identify a single estimate of the number eligible. Year on year changes in the ranges do not necessarily mean that the true level has changed. 9. Estimates for pension credit relate to October 2003 to March 2004, the first six months of pension credit. Estimates have therefore been annualised in order to make them comparable across different years and benefits. 10. At present it is not possible to calculate eligibility for disability living allowance (DLA). This is because eligibility is not established until entitlement is tested (at the point of claim). The assessment of eligibility is more complex than for other benefits, involving a detailed judgement of personal care and mobility needs. An estimate of the amount of unclaimed benefit would need to test eligibility by carrying out this detailed assessment, which claimants undertake as part of the claim process with a sample of cases.|
Mr. Jim Murphy: The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question asking if he will report progress on the design of a single standard operating model across all major benefits. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The design of a single Standard Operating Model across all Jobcentre Plus major benefits is now nearing completion. As part of the rollout of the new Jobcentre Plus service, which is in the final phase, the standard model for people making new and repeat claims to Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance and Incapacity Benefit has been in use since January 2005. The standard model for maintaining benefit claims that are already in payment, covering the processes required to handle changes to
customers circumstances and the processes around decision making and appeals, was introduced in the first Benefit Delivery Centre in April 2006. This process will become mandatory in all Benefit Delivery Centres as they are rolled out as part of the Centralisation of the Benefit Processing programme.
The Social Fund component of the Standard Operating Model will be introduced in September 2006 and then rolled out across the organisation as centralised Benefit Delivery Centres are put in place.
I hope this is helpful.
Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assessment he has made of the extent to which Best Ltd. has the capacity to deliver the New Deal Programme in Leeds and West Yorkshire from 1 July; 
(2) why Leeds city council was not informed of the decision to award the new deal contract to another contractor in sufficient time to allow it to put in place the statutory staff consultation process; 
Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 4 July 2006]: Best Ltd. are a well-established Leeds based provider who have successfully delivered for Jobcentre Plus for a number of years throughout West Yorkshire. They won this contract through a fair and open competition.
The contracts with Leeds city council (LCC) were extended on 13 February 2006 with a termination date of 30 June 2006. LCC were therefore aware in February 2006 that these contracts would terminate naturally at the end of June. This gave LCC sufficient time to deal with all issues connected with termination, including statutory consultation with staff.
All bids for this contract were subject to a rigorous assessment process in line with normal procurement rules, which have been applied nationally. The criteria and score weightings were published as part of the tendering documentation made available to all bidders, and included: previous experience of delivery of this type of provision; track record of delivery; experience and track record of sub contractors to be used; organisation, infrastructure, management and capacity to deliver.
Leeds city council did not bid for the new contract. They offered themselves as a sub-contractor to Pelcombe, a private sector bidder, whose tender submission did not succeed in winning the competition.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the special rules gateway in ensuring all terminal cancer patients receive the (a) disability living allowance and (b) attendance allowance benefits to which they are entitled; 
Mrs. McGuire: The purpose of the special rules is to help terminally ill people who are not expected to live longer than six months to receive the immediate payment of the higher rate attendance allowance or the highest rate care component of disability living allowance without the need to meet the normal entitlement conditions. They do this effectively. At any one time in the 12 months ending on 30 November 2005, around 62,000 people whose main disabling condition is recorded as malignant disease were receiving higher rate attendance allowance or the highest rate care component of disability living allowance under the special rules(1).
(1 )Source: DWP 5 per cent. sample data
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many applications from terminally ill cancer patients for (a) disability living allowance and (b) attendance allowance were unsuccessful in each of the last three years for which figures are available; and how many and what percentage subsequently appealed successfully in each year. 
Mrs. McGuire: The requested information is not available. Details are not kept about the nature of the medical condition of people whose claims to attendance allowance or disability living allowance are unsuccessful, or about the nature of the medical condition of people taking their cases to appeal.
Mr. Jim Murphy: Our long-term strategy to meet our targets is set out in Opportunity for all and in the Child Poverty Review, published alongside the 2004 Spending Review White Paper. It is based on:
Work for those who can, helping parents participate in the labour market;
Financial support for families, with more support for those who need it most, when they need it most; and
Delivering excellent public services that improve poor children's life chances and help break cycles of deprivation.
Our strategy has been successful in reversing the trend of rising child poverty and has resulted in 700,000 fewer children living in relative low-income. This represents significant progress towards the 2010 target to halve child poverty.
We remain firmly committed to the challenging goals to halve and then eradicate child poverty. Our strategy for meeting the 2010 target consists of a further reinforcement of our labour market policies complemented by increases in financial transfers through tax credits, and further improvements in public services. We will also continue working across central Government, and together with the devolved Administrations, local government and the voluntary
and community sector to ensure that progress is maintained. We are currently re-examining our strategy for meeting the 2010 target, including a reinforcement of our labour market policies, complemented by increases in tax credits, and further improvements in public services.
We launched our Welfare Reform Green Paper, "A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work, in January 2006. In it we proposed a number of initiatives to help families who are at the highest risk of being in poverty. We have set out how we will help lone parents, disabled people and older workers to return to work; the surest way of escaping poverty. It also sets out proposals for piloting new initiatives to help local partners work together to improve economic regeneration through skills, employment and health. Each area will be asked to develop a consortium comprising local partners with a shared interest in working together to raise employment rates and improve the economy. This may include local authorities, employers, learning and skills councils, regional development agencies, primary care trusts and Jobcentre Plus. The key aim of this initiative will be to provide a solution that offers the maximum degree of flexibility, so that local areas can provide local solutions to local problems.
In April 2006, the child element of the child tax credit was increased in line with earnings to £1,765 per year, an increase of £320 since its introduction in April 2003, and £75 above the 2004-05 rate. Budget 2006 announced that the child element would continue to rise at least in line with earnings until the end of this Parliament. This will provide a solid foundation for halving child poverty. Child benefit has been increased by 26 per cent. in real terms since 1997. Budget 2006 also set out a number of measures to help parents into work, provide further resources for education and to encourage employer provision of child care.
Finally, I recently announced the appointment of Lisa Marker as an independent adviser to help us achieve our target of eradicating child poverty by 2020. She will advise on new possible approaches to what is our number one priority.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what assessment he has made of the effect of delays in the transfer of old cases to the new system by the Child Support Agency on progress towards the Governments child poverty reduction targets; 
(2) what assessment he has made of the impact of the failures of the new computer system at the Child Support Agency on the Governments ability to meet its poverty reduction target; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The Child Support Agency contributes to the Governments wider target for the reduction of child poverty through a supporting target to increase the proportion of parents with care on income support and income-based jobseekers allowance who receive maintenance for their children.
Although achievement of this target is dependent on the successful conversion of old scheme cases onto the new scheme, we have always said that no decision will be taken on when to do this until we are confident that the new scheme is working well. In February 2006, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State commissioned Sir David Henshaw to undertake a fundamental redesign of child support policy and delivery mechanisms and he will deliver his findings this summer.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average bonus payment to the 10 most highly paid civil servants in (a) the Pensions Service, (b) the Child Support Agency and (c) Jobcentre Plus was in 2004-05. 
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